When I’m not writing, I teach theatre history. I often use Star Wars as an example of story structure, so naturally we discuss the films a little.
Recently, a student asked me what changes I would make to Star Wars. It’s a question I get a lot. Now, having grown up with the Original Trilogy, there’s nothing I’d change to those three. My usual answer is that I’d fix the prequels by making Palpatine a clone of Sidious. As a kid, the “Clone Wars” I imagined was a lot more interesting than a bunch of clones of a single dude. Much more Secret Invasion (the comic book version), or attempting to clone some Jedi to take over the galaxy. Making Palpatine a clone would make him innocent all along. He really thought he was helping and doing the right thing. It’s why the Jedi couldn’t sense his presence, even when he’s standing right next to them (always drove me crazy). Then, when Palpatine is made dictator, Sidious shows up, murders him by using Force Lightning to char him beyond recognition, and takes his place. Would’ve been a fun surprise. That’s what the prequels were missing – a surprise, a reveal that makes us rethink everything. Something akin to finding out Vader’s relationship to Luke. The joy of the OT was upending our expectations. The prequels were anything but surprising, alas.
(I’d also make Padme and Anakin the same age, to reduce the “ick” factor of his puppy dog crush on her. I’d make her more active, always throwing herself into danger, and have Anakin chase after her to save her, ignoring his duty. Additionally, I’d make Grievous and Maul the same person – Sidious was experimenting on saving people with robotics, paving the way for Vader. Would make the Obi-Wan/Grievous fight interesting).
After discussing these threads, another student asked what I would do to fix the sequel trilogy. There are several changes I would make, but the easiest to explain was my idea for fixing the death of Han.
First, Leia is with them on the mission to Starkiller Base (because why the hell wasn’t she?). Han has faced Kylo Ren and been wounded, but he’s alive. The sight of Leia makes Kylo run. She and Chewie are trying to get Han out of there, because the base is going to blow. But someone has to stay to hold the gate open (or some such thing).
Wounded, Han makes the decision. Leia tries to stay with him.
HAN: What are you doing? Get out of here, princess!
LEIA: Stop calling me that, you arrogant jerk. I’m not leaving you.
HAN: I know what I’m doing.
LEIA: Since when?
HAN: I couldn’t reach him. It’s up to you.
LEIA: Not without you.
HAN: Trust me.
LEIA: I love you.
HAN: I know.
Han stuns her.
HAN: Chewie, get her out of here!
Chewie and Han look at each other.
HAN: Get going, you furry oaf!
Chewie howls, but throws Leia over his shoulder and runs to the Falcon as Han covers them, shooting at the oncoming storm troopers.
Aboard the Falcon, as they take off, Leia awakens. She shouts that they have to go back. Chewie just flies, weeping. She cries too, clinging to him.
Then she uses the Force to reach out to Han. He feels her presence and, though in pain from his wound, he grins.
HAN: Hey, your worshipfulness. May the Force be…
Boom. Base blows up.
Leia weeps in Chewie’s arms, and he weeps in hers.
There. Fixed. Han gets the active, heroic death he deserves, and he and Leia get a proper farewell. Done.